The Intel 945GC chipset (945GC + ICH7) provides the following features to ASUS ITX-220:
- 2 x DDR2-533, up to 4GB;
- Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics, D-Sub;
- 1 x PCI;
- 6 x USB 2.0 (4 on the rear panel, 2 via an onboard header);
- 2 x SATA 3Gbps (SATA2);
- PS/2 keyboard and mouse;
- 1 x COM port on the rear panel.
The additional features include:
- Audio based on the 5.1-channel VIA VT1705 HDA codec, frontal I/O;
- Gigabit LAN based on Realtek 8112.
We tested the integrated audio solution in the 16-bit/44kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and a Terratec DMX 6fire sound card. Total grade: Very good.
We also tested the real speed of the built-in Gigabit LAN controller with the help of MikroTik btest. The numbers were not that great, but comparable to those of other motherboards based on the same chipset and featuring the same LAN chip: 175 Mbps up and 265 Mbps down. This should be enough to watch any video remotely, FullHD included. But transmitting lots of data (even tens of gigabytes) will take too long.
We measured how much this motherboard consumed from the PSU (Corsair CMPSU-620HX) in various modes. Four TRMS multimeters were daisy-chained between the PSU output and motherboard input to measure effective DC in +3.3VDC, +5VDC, +12V1DC, +12V2DC lanes. Each value was multiplied by effective voltage to obtain consumed power for each lane. The results were summed up and plotted on the diagram.
We measured power consumption in the following modes:
- Idle -- Windows XP SP2 with default processes running in the background;
- Full load -- Peak load created with the help of Prime95 and ATITool;
- CPU load -- Peak CPU load with no additional load on the graphics system;
- GPU load -- Peak GPU load.
The results look interesting enough. In idle mode, ASUS ITX-220 and Celeron 220 consume the least power among all mini-ITX configurations. At the same time, this couple consumes much more than Atom 330 configurations in peak-load modes.
VShV-003-M3 sound level meter and A-weighting is used. The sound pressure sensor is located 90cm above the centre of the test subject, which itself stands on the soundproof sheet of porous rubber. All tests are conducted in a soundproof room with the typical noise level of 20 dB(A). All electric appliances in the room are switched off during tests. During tests we connected the onboard fan to the motherboard and the PSU (by means of a Zalman adapter). Note that we do not assume that manufacturers conduct their own tests under similar conditions.
Operation in the normal mode is quite noisy. You can work at such a machine during day in an office or at home, but you won't get much sleep if you leave it working nearby during night. When powered by the 5V lane, the fan produces less noise. This is already suitable for round the clock operation at home. You can (and probably should) also install a system fan speed controller, like Zalman FanMate 2 (Newegg, Amazon) or similar, and adjust it to the typical load and temperature.
Let's compare ASUS ITX-220 with Intel D945GCLF2 and see the difference between the older and more consuming Intel Celeron Processor 220 and the newer and more power-efficient Intel Atom Processor 330.
||Intel D945GCLF2 (Atom 330)
||ASUS ITX-220 (Celeron 220)
|Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec
|Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec
|MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec
|FarCry (Low@640x480), fps
|FarCry (Medium@800x600), fps
|Doom 3 (Low@640x480), fps
|Doom 3 (High@1024x768), fps
As you can see, Celeron 220 outperforms its newer rival greatly in all applications that only need one core. Only 7-Zip shows a slight performance drop provided by the second core of Atom 330 and faster memory. However, the victory is mostly relative. If you take a look at the absolute scale, you'll see that Intel Celeron Processor 220 is much slower than any modern low-end Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 processor. It copes with more tasks than the dual-core Atom 330 does, but we still can't say it's a full-fledged solution.
Now let's see if this platform is suitable for watching video, both regular and HD. We used a number of clips encoded as follows:
- MPEG-4 ASP (XviD), 640x480, 2000 Kbps
- H.264, 640x480, High profile Level 4.1, 2000 Kbps
- H.264, 1280x720, High profile Level 4.1, 5000 Kbps
- H.264, 1280x720, High profile Level 4.1, 50 fps, 5000 Kbps
- H.264, 1920x1080, High profile Level 4.1, 10000 Kbps
- H.264, 1920x1080, High profile Level 5.1, 15000 Kbps
- MPEG-2, 1920x1080, 30000 Kbps
The first two clips represent regular DVDRips. The third is a typical 720p rip. The fourth has doubled fps. This format is often used for sports broadcasts converted from interlaced formats (e.g., 1080i). The next two clips represent FullHD (1080p) rips of the typical and highest quality, respectively. Finally, the last clip represents a high-definition MPEG-2 stream produced by an up-to-date video camera, for example.
We tested decoding with the help of VLC 1.0, CoreAVC 1.9.5 and ffdshow 2009-07-05 (rev. 3026). FRAPS was used for measurements, including the average fps and shown frames data. For the best viewing experience, the average fps must not deviate from the nominal value by more than 0.1 (such results are typed in bold).
|720p, 24 fps
|720p, 50 fps
Celeron 220 coped with video content better than Atom 330 did, but the captivating world of FullHD was off-limits for it nevertheless. Even the fast CoreAVC dropped about 20% of frames. However, Celeron 220 did well playing all of the 720p clips, as well as those of higher bitrate and doubled frame rate. Thus, ASUS ITX-220 can be considered suitable for watching regular videos. But if you need a full-fledged home theater, you'll have to look for a different solution with an HDMI output and hardware FullHD decoding. A motherboard based on NVIDIA ION, for example (Newegg, Amazon).
Our tests indicated that ASUS ITX-220 does consume more than counterparts with Intel Atom CPUs. The relative difference may be as big as 50%, but this is just 10W-15W on the absolute scale. This shouldn't add much to electric bills or create much extra cooler noise.
The machine based on a CPU like Intel Celeron Processor 220 will be noticeably faster than that based on its "Atomic" counterpart. ASUS ITX-220 may be old, but it's interesting nevertheless. What's more important, it's quite cheap. This motherboard may even be the best solution on this old chipset.
Motherboard provided by ASUS.
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